Authors List of Great Palindromes

What the heck is an "Authors List?"

Leigh Mercer, palindromist
J.A. Lindon, palindromist
Alastair Reid, writer
John Taylor, "the water poet"
Peter Hilton, codebreaker

Help us identify the authors of these

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What do you mean, an "Authors List" of palindromes?"

Great palindromes are works of art, and their authors deserve all of the fame (and ridicule) they can get. Even bad ones require cleverness and hard work.

Right now, though, few people know who wrote even the most famous palindromes. Cartoon books and Internet lists of palindromes routinely copy famous examples with no attempt to credit the authors. This web page is an attempt to start giving credit where credit is due.

The dates for "A man, a plan, a canal: Panama" and "Able was I ere I saw Elba" -- and the kids' magazine palindromes from the 1800s -- come from O.V. Michaelsen, who is probably the greatest authority on the subject today. His book Words At Play (Sterling Publishing, ISBN: 0-8069-97-5) covers the subject in great detail.

Anyway, here are the authors of several of the best. Note how well known each palindrome is, and yet how unique: their makerís mark is evident. Future issues of The Palindromist magazine will have profiles of these writers, plus your contributions toward identifying who wrote other masterpieces.


John Taylor, "The Water Poet"

"Lewd did I live, & evil I did dwel." 1614

Leigh Mercer

"A man, a plan, a canal: Panama" 1948 (source: O.V. Michaelsen)

"Straw? No, too stupid a fad. I put soot on warts."

"Sums are not set as a test on Erasmus."

Peter Hilton, British code-breaker on the team that solved the Enigma code

"Doc, note. I dissent. A fast never prevents a fatness. I diet on cod." 1943 (Source: "The Codebreakers")

Alastair Reid, British poet

"T. Eliot, top bard, notes putrid tang emanating, is sad. Iíd assign it a name: gnat dirt upset on drab pot toilet." 1960

J. A. Lindon

"Cigar? Toss it in a can. It is so tragic."

"Dennis and Edna sinned"

"Lager, sir, is regal."

Help us identify the authors of the following works

(and any other well known ones you know about.) The oldest known date of publication is attached:

"Madam, Iím Adam" - 18?? (probably impossible to tell)

"Able was I ere I saw Elba" - 1860s (NO, it was not Napoleon. He was French, remember? Source: O.V. Michaelsen)

"Rise to vote, sir" - 1925

"Sit on a potato pan, Otis" - 1965 (possibly Dmitri Borgmann?)

"I roamed under it as a tired, nude Maori." - 1973

"Eros? Sidney, my end is sore" - 1980 (Willard Espy?)


Here are a number of very old palindromes from children's magazines of the 1800s. Most were in letters to the editor. It's amazing how literary youngsters were before TV and video games.

Dora saw tides united under a red nude tin used; it was a rod.
--Herbert, "Our Letter Box" in Our Young Folks magazine, July 1868

Draw pupil's lip upward.
--Willy Wisp, "Our Letter Box" in Our Young Folks, Aug. 1866

Redroot put up to order.
--Charles T., St. Louis, MO, "Our Letter Box" in Our Young Folks, April 1866

Red rum did emit revel ere Lever time did murder.
--Edward A. J., "Our Letter Box" in Our Young Folks, June 1866

Snug & raw was I ere I saw war & guns.
--Submitted by W.G.S. (W.G. Scribner of Lincoln, NE?), "Our Letter Box" in Our Young Folks, April 1866

Star, live on. No evil rats!
--Meg, "Our Letter Box" in Our Young Folks, May 1867

Did I trap a rat & tar a part? I did.
--Henry S. P. (age 13), "Our Letter Box in Our Young Folks, June 1866

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